In a roomful of map lovers at the Shelburne Museum, cartographer Bill Morris demonstrated his recent creation that literally let us slide from Burlington in 1877 to Burlington today. He had created this interactive map for the Museum’s recent exhibit on historic birdseye views of Vermont towns. Although the end product was simple to use, the two original base maps needed some serious work to make them align, and Bill had the rapt attention of his audience as he described the process.
Bill showed us how he used an open-source digital tool called Map Warper to upload a historic map, and geo-rectify or digitally align it with our modern coordinate system. Then, he made a present-day map using Mapbox in roughly the style of the old birdseye view map with buildings in 3-D. By laying one map on the other with a slider, he created an image that allows anyone to easily move back and forth across the 140 year divide to see the changes block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood. In one effortless swipe, Perkins Pier goes from being a commercial wood warehousing area in 1877, to a park and wastewater treatment plant now. The remains of the ravine through the center of the city can be seen in the old map, but are gone in the present one. The old multi-story grist mill at the Winooski Falls dominates the scene in 1877, but is entirely gone in the present.
It’s likely that not everyone at the presentation would be able to duplicate the technical process Bill used. But I don’t think there was a person there that did not go home, type in the link to the map, and get drawn into moving the slider back and forth and back and forth and back and forth as they navigated around the city. I know I did. Now it’s your turn: https://birdseye.one.